Briefing of Bitter gourd
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Briefing of Bitter gourd

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Briefing of Bitter gourd

Common names

Balsam pear bitter cucumber,leprosy gourd,bitter melon,bitter gourd;Margose,concombre amer,paroka,concombre africain;balsamina longa;amargo,caigua amarga,cundeamor chino o balsamina; Karela; Peria,Peria;


Feed categories

  • Other fodder plants.

  • Feed plants.

Related feed(s)

  • Bitter melon (Momordica balsamina).


The bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.) is an horticultural species from the tropics and subtropics cultivated for its edible fruits known for their extreme bitterness.Information about the use in animal feeding of bitter gourd and its products is extremely limited.


Momordica charantia is an annual climbing or trailing herb with stems (vines) up to 5 m long.The stems are ridged,glabrous or hairy, and they bear simple tendrils.The leaves are showy,alternate,simple,borne on 1.5-7 cm long petioles.The leaf-blade can be glabrous or pubescent,deeply palmated,2.5-10 cm broad x 3-12.5 cm long.The flowers are solitary,unisexual,borne at leaf axils,regular, pentamerous up to 2 cm long,pale yellow to orange-yellow;male and female flowers are distinct.The fruit is a pendulous broadly ovoid and beaked berry,up to 11 cm in length × 4 cm in diameter (some cultivars reach up to 45 cm × 9 cm).Immature fruits are green in colour,and then become reddish-orange when ripe.They split open at maturity to release the seeds sheathed in a sticky red pulp. Cultivated fruits have smooth to spiny surface.The seeds are oblong,10 mm × 5 mm,flattened,white or brown.

Uses Bitter gourd

The fruit of bitter gourd is used for human food,and it is considered a famine food in West Africa.Immature fruits are mainly used in stews,curries and pickles,and can be used raw,in salads,like cucumbers.Treatments like parboiling,soaking,salting, or scoring the skin help to reduce bitterness.Dried pieces of fruit are used to make tea in Japan and other Asian countries.The leafy shoots may be eaten,and,in Asia the plant is sometimes grown only for the shoots.The plant is widely used in ethnomedicine.Particularly, the unripe fruit,seeds and aerial parts have been used in various parts of the world to treat diabetes.The compounds responsible for the hypoglycaemic principle in Momordica charantia could be steroidal glycosides (a combination of several saponins named "charantin"), insulinomimetic lectins and alkaloids (Raman, 1996).The roots have been reported to be abortifacient while leaves and shoots would have anthelminthic effects.The seeds have been reported to be poisonous.The extraction of bitter gourd seeds yields drying oil,which may be suitable for industrial purposes (varnishes, paints etc.Use for animal feeding of bitter gourd fruits,seeds oil meal,and plant parts are cited in the literature but there is little evidence that they are actually used.


Momordica charantia is believed to be indigenous to the Old World tropics (India or Southeast Asia).It was possibly domesticated in India and southern China where its cultivation as a food crop and for folk medicines has a long history.It has then spread and is now found naturalized in almost all tropical and subtropical regions.It is commonly found in the wild flora of Africa,occurring almost throughout tropical Africa where it is collected from the wild as a vegetable or medicinal plant.In the USA (Florida),it has escaped and became invasive.Outside its native range,it naturally grows in sunny areas along coastal areas,creeks,ditch banks,firebreaks,fence lines,forest edges and disturbed sites.It can become a weed and,in restoration areas,bitter gourd is a dreaded plant that smothers native species,climbs to the trees,covers the ground and quickly forms dense thickets.Bitter gourd grows from sea level to over 1300 m altitude.It grows in places where minimum average annual temperatures may be as low as 12.5°C and where annual rainfall could be as low as 480 mm.It grows on a wide range of soils with pH ranging from 4.3 to 8.7.This species can be found growing in coastal areas,along creeks and rivers,forest edges and disturbed sites.For optimum growth,Momordica charantia needs a strong support,1-4 m tall, but it will also grow as a matted ground cover.Bitter gourd is an important market vegetable cultivated in Asia,notably India,Sri Lanka,Vietnam,Thailand,Malaysia,the Philippines and southern China.It is valued for Asian dishes in tropical America and in the Southern United States.It is occasionally cultivated in East Africa,mostly by people of Asian origin using Asian cultivars.

Environmental impact


Bitter gourd is a fast growing, covering and pionneering shrub that can become a bane in restoration areas as it spreads through tree gaps after prescribed burns and invasive plant removal.In Florida,it was placed in the list of invasive plants in 2013.In Australia,it is a considered an environmental weed.